Former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar’s history of sexually abusing of more than 150 women was revealed thanks to a Georgia law. House Bill 17, introduced by State Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine) was signed into law in 2015. Named the Hidden Predator Act (HPA), the law extended the statute of limitations. This allows victims to report sexual abuse up to 35 years after the event took place. In addition to extending the statute of limitations, HPA included sources ordering private agencies keep records regarding child sexual abuse cases open. This created a chance for victims to view records regardless if their case had been closed or not.
Georgia Link to Nassar Case
Georgia’s HPA made it possible for a Savannah woman to come forward and sue USA Gymnastics, according to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. Her case, known as Jane Doe v. USA Gymnastics, alleged that she was sexually assaulted at the age of 11 in Savannah by her old gymnastics coach, William “Bill” McCabe. He is now serving a 30-year sentence for sexual exploitation of children, including Jane Doe. McCabe took pornographic photos of his victims as they were changing, and then published the images. Letters were then sent to USA Gymnastics by eight of McCabe’s former gym employees corroborating the accusations. One letter written by a gym owner warned USA Gymnastics, advising them that McCabe should be put away before he raped someone.
Years after McCabe’s arrest and sentencing, Georgia’s HPA allowed a judge to force the release of records. They did so in order to reveal that the USA Gymnastics was aware of McCabe’s history but did nothing to protect the children under his care. In 2016, while investigating allegations against USA Gymnastics, the Indianapolis Star sought the release of records gathered on McCabe including Jane Doe and 50 other victims. Georgia’s HPA allows for victims of sexual abuse to file suit up to two years from the date they discover the abuse, even with repressed memory.
Seeking Legal Help
Before the HPA, Georgia’s statute of limitations was short, limiting victims from being able to bring a case against their abusers. That being said, law makers are seeking to make the HPA even stronger in order to help victims of sexual abuse. If you have any questions about the current law in Georgia, or any other legal question regarding sexual abuse or other crimes, contact a knowledgeable attorney today.
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